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October 2021  

Tennessee Tech announces plans for Football Operations Center

An architectural rendering of the front side of the Football Operations Center.

Tennessee Tech is engaged in the most expansive building campaign in the school's history; however, no significant improvements in Tech's football facilities have been made in 50 years. Built in 1966, Tucker Stadium -- the home of Golden Eagle Football - is 55 years old.

Tech recently announced plans for a Football Operations Center. The 40,000-square-foot facility will be situated in close proximity to the Athletics Performance Center and will feature a lighted turf practice field, contemporary team locker room, theatre-style auditorium, Football Academic Success Center, hospitality suite, physical therapy center and more.


Tech trustee Barry Wilmore prepares for space flight

A photo of Barry Wilmore sitting at a board of trustees meeting.

Barry Wilmore, a NASA astronaut, Tennessee Tech alumnus and board of trustee member, will fly in the Boeing Crew Flight Test, the inaugural crewed flight of the CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station. Wilmore says they hope for a launch date in the Fall of 2022. Wilmore credits his time on the Tech football team with helping prepare him for his career. He says there is a level of rigor and discipline that he would not have had he not played football. He learned how to compartmentalize and how to work on a team.

To all Tennessee Tech alumni affiliated with NASA: If you have ever worked for NASA in any capacity (internship, co-op, full-time, etc.), you'll want to stay tuned to future editions of The Alumnus. We have some VERY exciting things planned for 2022!

read more

A drone photo of the Quad looking towards the north. The graphic reads "Tech Took Us There"

President and CEO of AMIkids says Tennessee Tech football prepared him to be a leader

A portrait of Mike Thornton

As president and chief executive officer of AMIkids, Inc., Mike Thornton, `89 business management, leads the nonprofit organization dedicated to helping youth develop into responsible and productive citizens. For nearly 50 years, AMIkids has helped more than 150,000 kids across the country by allowing them to discover their full potential and guiding them on a path to a positive future.

It's hard to imagine where many of those individuals might be today without AMIkids and without Thornton at the helm. And it was at Tennessee Tech -- in the classroom and on the football field -- that Thornton first learned the skills to be a leader.

"I learned a lot about leadership at Tech," said Thornton. "Obviously, in my position now, that is the number one thing I do: lead. And a lot of that I learned as a leader on the Tech football team, whether calling plays or having other responsibilities to my team. Learning that at 18 or 19 really helped me."

Thornton has chosen to give back to his alma mater by making a significant financial commitment to Tech's Football Operations Center.

The Tech Took Us There series features outstanding Tech alumni who credit their successes in their careers to the education they received at Tennessee Tech.

read mike thornton's full story

more tech took us there stories

learn more about the football operations center

Volunteer Spotlight - the graphic has a spotlight shining on the words "bold, fearless, confident, kind"

Lifelong friends lead fundraising initiative for Tech Football

A photo of Ottis Phillips and Dianne Murphy smiling behind a cutout of Tommy Tech.

Decades of friendship and a love for Golden Eagle Athletics have inspired two Tennessee Tech alumni to partner in leading fundraising efforts for a Football Operations Center on campus.

Ottis Phillips and M. Dianne Murphy grew up in Cookeville, attended the same church and were in the same high school class. They also experienced firsthand what it's like to play for the Golden Eagles: Phillips was a member of Tech's football team and Murphy played basketball, volleyball and tennis. Now, they are focused on helping the next generation of student-athletes, using the knowledge and experience they gained at Tech and in their careers to establish a new facility for Tech football.

read more

Tech shares Sept. 10 Ashraf Islam Engineering Building groundbreaking video

An architectural rendering of the Ashraf Islam Engineering Building

Hundreds of alumni and friends came to campus on Sept 10 for the groundbreaking ceremony of the first new engineering building in 50 years! Check out the video of the day's events via the link below, and thank you again to everyone who helped make this possible.

watch video of groundbreaking ceremony

Alumni invited back to campus for Homecoming Nov. 13

A cartoon of Awesome Eagle giving a wings up sign with his hand. He is dressed in an early 90s looking jacket and there are geometric shapes behind him looking like a common early 90s motif. The graphic reads "Back in Time: Homecoming Through the Decades"

Alumni are invited back to campus to celebrate Homecoming on Nov. 13! The theme is Tech Back in Time: Homecoming Through the Decades. The Crawford Alumni Center will host a parade watch party in the Varsity Building (705 N. Dixie Ave.) at 9:30 a.m. Then we'll head over to Tucker Stadium to watch the Golden Eagles face off against UT Martin. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. Be sure to check out our events page for a full listing of Homecoming events happening across campus.

Alumni Association to host Tennessee Titans tailgate event Dec. 12

"T-Rac and Awesome Eagle stand in the bleachers at Nissan Stadium on a cloudy day. They are both giving the "wings up" sign. The Tennessee Tech logo is on the jumbotron in the background.

On Dec. 12, the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association will host a Tennessee Titans tailgate event in Titan Town prior to the noon kickoff when the Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. The cost is $50 per person and includes access to Titan Town, a buffet lunch, two drink tickets and attendance to the game. There are only 100 tickets available, so register as soon as possible! 

Tech has joined the Titans as the team's education partner, presenting the 10th annual Learning Lab series of events at Nissan Stadium. The Learning Lab offers high school students an opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn about the inner workings of an NFL team. 


Alumni Association to present awards to four outstanding alumni

Four portraits of the recipients with their names and the indivdual awards they are being presented with. The graphic reads "an evening of excellence"

On Nov. 13, the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association will present awards to four outstanding alumni who have demonstrated professional success and instilled great pride in the university. The Evening of Excellence will be held on Homecoming, and all alumni and friends are invited. The Association will recognize the following individuals:

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
Camron Rudd, `05 mechanical engineering and foreign languages

Outstanding Service Award
Susan G. Wells, `93 business management and `95 MBA

Outstanding Philanthropy Award
Scott Edwards, `87 business management

Distinguished Alumnus Award
Fred Lowery, `94 mechanical engineering

Click the link below to register to attend. The deadline to register is Nov. 1.

If you'd like to nominate someone for a 2022 award, click the link below. All nominations are due Nov. 15.

Pedestrian mall architectural rendering released

An architectural rendering of the proposed pedestrian mall

Tech recently shared architectural renderings of the Peachtree pedestrian mall. Once completed, the mall will transform the center of campus, stretching from Wings Up Way in the south part of campus to A Street between Foster and Johnson Halls. The project is expected to go out for bid in the next month, with construction slated to begin in the spring. The estimated construction time for the project is 12-15 months.

Tennessee Tech Today podcast highlights campus life

The t-eagle and a callout graphic that reads "Tennessee Tech Today"Did you know that Tennessee Tech has its own weekly podcast? The program highlights all aspects of campus life including research, student achievement, faculty and staff stories, athletics and events. You can listen on the website (link below) or via Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

listen to tennessee tech today podcast

Tennessee Tech asks alumni, where are you True?

Jackie Corbin stands in front of the Parthenon in Nashville. He is holding his 21 Years True To Tech magnet!

Where are you True?

Are you traveling this year? We want to see your photos! Snap a photo of your True To Tech magnet or decal in front of a landmark, monument or "Welcome to the State of ___" sign!

Jackie Corbin, `63 biology and 21 years True To Tech, recently visited the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, and sent us this photo.

True To Tech recognizes donors who make a gift of any amount to Tech each year. Once you have made gifts two years in a row, you will receive a True To Tech magnet and decal displaying the number of years you have supported Tech.

If you aren't a member of True To Tech but are interested in joining this loyal giving society, click the link below to learn more!

Thank you, Jackie, for showing your Tech Pride (we see your Tennessee Tech hat!) and for supporting your alma mater for 21 years!

Eric and Angie Hyche show Tech Pride in Wyoming

Eric and Angie stand smiling in front of Inspiration Point in Grand Teton National Park.

If you want to participate in Where Are You True? and don't have a True To Tech decal with you, no problem! Just take a photo of yourself wearing a Tech shirt or hat.

Eric Hyche, `87 electrical engineering, and Angie Hyche, `87 biology, are True To Tech, and they sent us some photos of their recent travels to Wyoming!

If the Hyches' travels out west have inspired you, be sure to read the story below for information about our alumni trip to Utah's Mighty National Parks next summer!

If you'd like to join the "Where are you True?" initiative, simply hashtag your photo #TrueToTech on Facebook or Instagram, or send your photos to us at We can't wait to see where Tech Pride shows up next!

Watch a video about where are you true

learn more about true to tech

A photo of a vista at Arches National Park

Alumni and friends are invited to join the Tennessee Tech Crawford Alumni Center as we explore Utah's Mighty National Parks next summer! On June 5, 2022, we will head out on a seven-day adventure to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Dead Horse Point State Park, Monument Valley and much more! Visit our Golden Eagle Travel website or email for more information. Wings Up Across America!

visit golden eagle travel website

A graphic that is made to look like a word find. The words Tennesee, Tech, Trivia, Puzzle, Crawford, Quiz, Games, and Alumni are circled.

Last month we asked the following trivia question:  

Which Tennessee Tech building is named for a former department chair and science instructor who also served as a coroner in the 1930s? 

The answer was Foster Hall, named for Ferris U. Foster. The story below tells a creepy tale about Foster's other profession and what was going on in a Tech lab in the 1930s... 

Congratulations to H. Eugene Wilmore, `58 industrial management, who won some Tech SWAG. Fun fact: Eugene Wilmore is the father of Tech Trustee and astronaut Barry Wilmore! (See second story in this month's newsletter.) Thank you, Wilmore family, for representing your alma mater so well. 

And now for this month's question: 

One of the best parts of a campus tour is learning the stories behind the building names. Which building is named for a member of the first graduating class of Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, the first president of the Alumni Association and Tech's bursar from 1918 to 1967? Hint: This building stands out among the others, thanks to some unique specimens on its front porch, and these specimens represent the science studied inside. Bonus: Do you know the full name of this distinguished TPI alumnus and namesake of the building? If so, we'll enter your name in the drawing twice!

Monthly trivia questions in The Alumnus are designed to test your knowledge of all things Tech! If you know the answer, email We'll randomly select one of the correct answers to win some Tech SWAG! 

Tech-themed games and activities 

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Foster Hall named for Ferris Underwood Foster

A black and white portrait of F. U. Foster.

Ferris Underwood Foster (the namesake of Foster Hall) was hired as a science instructor in 1926 and chaired Tech's Department of Chemistry. He also served as a coroner.

In the April 27, 1933, edition of the Putnam County Herald, Foster is referenced as examining the organs of a Silver Point woman. Her body was exhumed at the request of family members who weren't convinced that the cause of her death was heart disease. Where did Foster conduct the examination? In his Tennessee Tech lab!

Check out other creepy Tennessee Tech tales via the link below. (These Tech ghost stories were originally published in the Oct. 2019 edition of The Alumnus.)

Do you know any Tech ghost stories? We'd love to hear them! Email your stories to and you might see them in a future edition of The Alumnus!


A purple graphic with Friends Remembered and doves in gold

A portrait of Larry D. McClanahan

Larry D. McClanahan of Gallatin, Tennessee, passed away on Aug. 27.

He was a graduate of Gallatin High and graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and in 1974 with master's degree in civil engineering. He taught at Tech as a graduate assistant then later as an adjunct instructor. He was a member of Hendersonville First Baptist Church, Sons of the American Revolution and several other organizations.

Larry's wife, Betty, and all three of his children are Tennessee Tech graduates as well.

Larry was a member of Tech's Engineering Advisory Board, and he and Betty were members of the President's Club, Tech's donor recognition society.

In 2020, Larry shared his and Betty's Lovebirds story for Tech's annual Lovebirds Contest, held on Valentine's Day each year. In his Lovebirds submission, Larry wrote that when he met Betty at Tech, it was love at first sight. They married during spring break in 1963.

read full obituary

A portrait of Richard P. Savage

Professor Emeritus Richard P. Savage passed away on Sept. 29.

He was born in Grundy County, Tennessee, and as a child, he lived in the Barker's Cove community. He taught in the Sequatchie County school system, served in the army from 1951 to 1953, then returned to the Sequatchie County school system.

In 1956, he was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to pursue graduate work at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) where he earned his master's degree. He earned his doctorate at Oklahoma State in 1968. He served as a faculty member at Tennessee Wesleyan for one year, worked two years at Union Carbide in Oak Ridge, then served for 30 years as a member of the faculty in Tech's Department of Mathematics, until his retirement in 1992.

In retirement he owned and operated the first and largest Christmas tree farm in Putnam County.

He is survived by several family members, including Dr. Richard P. Savage, Jr., who teaches in Tech's math department.

read full obituary

A portrait of Steve Tabachnick

Dr. Steve Tabachnick passed away on Oct. 9.

Dr. Tabachnick chaired the Tennessee Tech Department of English from 1985-1990 and was a member of the Tennessee Philological Association.

After his time at Tech, he went on to teach at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Memphis. During his time at the University of Memphis, he served as English department chair for eight years and as a professor of English until his retirement in 2020.

He was a dedicated teacher and scholar, and his two areas of expertise were Lawrence of Arabia and the graphic novel. He wrote or edited 13 books including The Cambridge History of the Graphic Novel and impacted the lives of countless students.

read full obituary

Friends Remembered honors the memories of the Tennessee Tech alumni and friends we have lost. If you would like to include someone in Friends Remembered, please email


Archives with Atkinson Graphic

A graphic reading " A History of Desegregation at Tennessee Tech University"

Do you know when and how Tech began racial desegregation? Check out the Tech Archives' latest exhibit on the main floor of the Volpe Library. "A History of Desegregation at Tennessee Tech University" interprets the context and early decades of Black students and employees at Tech and connects their efforts with the activism of Black students today.

The exhibit can be viewed in person at the Volpe Library or online, and accessible PDFs of the exhibit panels are available via the link below. This exhibit is an abbreviated excerpt from a digital exhibit on the Black history of Tech. Special thanks to Assistant Archivist Hannah O'Daniel McCallon who curated the exhibit.

University Archivist Megan Atkinson, Assistant Archivist Hannah O'Daniel McCallon and the University Archives staff are responsible for collecting, preserving and making accessible materials of historical significance to the University and the Upper Cumberland. Follow Archives and Special Collections on Facebook, email their office with questions, and watch for more "Archives with Atkinson" in future editions of The Alumnus. 

Digital Exhibit Panels

view university archives' digital collections

learn more about archives and special collections

Follow Tech Archives on Facebook


Class Notes

George D. Boyd, DVM, `73 animal science, received the Agricultural Foundation's 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award. The award was presented at the Annual Agricultural Foundation Banquet on Oct. 16.

Cathy Ball, `87 civil engineering, has been selected as the new city manager of Johnson City. Read more.

Brad Freeze, `02 civil engineering, has been named chief engineer-assistant director of the Nashville Department of Transportation (NDOT) effective Nov. 1. Read more.

Nancy Holland, Lisa Bowen Field, and Donna Martin stand with their arms around each other while smiling at the cameraNancy Holland, `76 music education; Lisa Bowen Field, `78 music education; and Donna Martin, `77 music, participated in a Tennessee Retired Teachers Association Leadership Meeting on Oct. 18. The three alumni were classmates in Tech's music department during the late `70s and enjoyed reconnecting with one another this month. (Pictured left)

We love hearing about the successes of Tennessee Tech alumni. Email us your promotions, awards and other achievements, and we'll share in the next edition of The Alumnus! 

Upcoming Tennessee Tech University bookstore sales

Tennessee Tech graduation regalia and diploma frames

Oct. 28-Nov. 8:  Diploma Frame Sale -- 20% off online only! 

Free shipping on online orders of $75 or more! 

A new University Bookstore website is coming soon, with many new items for both alumni and students!  Stay tuned for more details in the November edition of The Alumnus.

The bookstore offers some high-end items including jewelry & watches, glassware and home decor items. These items are exclusively sold online, and most are produced on demand so they take about 2-4 weeks for production and shipping. These are great options if you are looking for something unique for yourself or a nice gift for someone else. 

The University Bookstore is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

shop the Tech bookstore online

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